X. COFFINS AND FRIENDSHIP
The sound of my palm meeting the skin of his cheek, hard, reverberated through the silence of the room, as Carter woke up with a satisfying yelp. He immediately placed his hands over the place where I hit him, and I could see a bright red patch forming on his fair skin.
“What the hell was that for?” he looked furious but I didn’t care.
“You changed my clothes!” he was opening his mouth to speak when I held up my palm to silence him, “but you know what? That’s not what I care about! What I’m saying is that I finally hate you Carter Harvey,” I laughed mockingly that looked more of like a maniac, “I hate you! You have successfully pushed all my buttons and threw me to the point where there’s nothing but hatred for you. You knew my weakness and you used it efficiently to blackmail me. So, congrats Carter Harvey for finally proving to me the monster that you can be,” I saw him grimacing at the words, and this only fuelled a weird sense of satisfaction in me as I added, "The monster that you truly are,” I breathed heavily as I completed my rant.
There was long pause between us which was accompanied by the sound of my heavy breathing. As I looked up at him, I saw his jaws hardened and fists clenched.
When he finally looked at me, I saw that the usual glint which was always present in his eyes were replaced by a chilling coldness, “Christina changed your clothes since you were acting like a drug addict,” I looked away but there was no guilty feeling this time.
I heard him sigh.
“Good night,” he said as he walked out the room.
Like I’m really gonna have it.
I slumped down on the bed as tears finally started to flow freely from my eyes without any bound. The toll of everything that happened today is finally taking on me, and I can’t help but feel helpless and vulnerable. My body shook as the scenario of everything happening today flashed before my eyes.
I was a gone case, but the fact that broke me further was Maria’s demise. She never deserved this. None of us did, but she wasn’t even connected. Yet there she is lying in a coffin and within a week she would turn into a bloodthirsty beast. A beast that used to be my best friend. A beast that will always be my best friend, no matter what.
Earlier my life used to be a mess, but now it’s officially a catastrophe.
As my eyes began to drift shut with tears still flowing from them, I lay down comfortably on my side. After twelve years, I was again crying myself to sleep.
The next morning I woke up with a dull ache in my head; probably due to the amount of crying. Getting into the washroom, I checked my reflection. There in front of me was a girl who was so broken and scared. Scared of the future. Scared of her present, and past. But somehow, she knew there was no way out of this.
After taking a long warm shower, I wrapped myself in a pink towel and stepped out only to find Christina carrying a bunch of clothes. She was sitting on my bed with her phone. Hearing me enter, she looked up at me. Her eyes widened, and a small blush crept up her cheeks as she averted her gaze.
“Good now that you have freshened up. Here are my clothes,” she indicated to the bunch, still not looking at me. “ I think you are going to like them since we have a quite similar fashion taste,” she smiled as she continued about how we couldn’t talk last night due to Carter bringing me in late, and she is excited about the idea of me staying with them.
I rolled my eyes at her, “Whatever.”
Christina seemed surprised at my rudeness, “Is everything okay?”
I shrugged and picked up the clothes brought by her. It was a maroon spaghetti strapped top with denim washed rip jeans. She was correct. We do have similar fashion taste.
Christina frowned and turned me around by the shoulders, “ Krystal, I know this is too much but you gotta trust us. Please.”
I laughed at her and removed her hands from my shoulders as Christina’s cheeks flushed in embarrassment.
“Trust you? Joke of the century! You expect me to trust people who threatened to kill my best friend?”her eyes widened, and I knew that she wasn’t involved in this. Sighing, I explained her everything that happened after she and Cameron left. I could see the change of her face from horrified to furious.
“I’m gonna kill that bastard,” she exclaimed as her eyes hardened.
“Do you need my help?” I offered.
She grinned at me but then her expression became sober, “Look I get where you come from but please don’t confuse me with him. We may be family, but I never supported his ways. In case you haven’t noticed he’s the black sheep,” she grumbled.
I didn’t want to believe Christina. At all. But a part of me did believe her. Maybe because she’s never been anything but nice to me since the first day.
Before they knew I was the key to their doom.
Christina however, continued, “As much as an ass he can be, I don’t think he really meant that. He does care about you. Maybe in his twisted way but, he does. But then again, I won’t put anything past him,” she trailed off.
Carter, on the other hand, has been nothing but an ass to me since we met. Sure we had our moments, but maybe those were either my hallucination or because he thought of me as a weapon. Either way. I don’t trust him. I never will.
“I don’t care. As long as he stays away from Maria,” I shrugged.
“Do you want Cam to keep watch?” she suggested and I nodded. I trusted Cameron and Christina a little, but a part of me was still wary of them.
Christina beamed at me and then whispered, “You know, we would make a great team,” she laughed. And despite the dangerous situation, I found myself laughing too. There’s something relaxing and refreshing about Christina that puts me to ease. Her jovial attitude and kindness in every situation is a grace I wish I had.
After sometime, she left the room for me to get dressed. After getting done, I walked into the kitchen to find all the three siblings already seated. Christina waved at me while Cam gave a small smile and Carter kept looking at his plate as if he found his food really interesting.
I sat next to Christina while she served. Throughout the entire breakfast, none of us spoke a single word so when we were done, I told Christina to let me see Maria. She agreed to take me there.
Their house was apparently bigger than I expected and had a separate wing behind their main house.
“Is this where you slaughter people?” I had meant it as a joke but seeing Christina’s expression, I realized how much of that came out in a literal way.
“Sorry. I didn’t mean that,” I mumbled but Christina smiled at me.
“It’s okay,” her expression turned serious as she spoke again, “this was my father’s torture chamber. He used to hunt vampires, torture them and eventually kill them. All here,” she said.
“Your father um...he..um..,” I fiddled with my fingers as I lacked in channelling my question properly.
“He was a hunter. He wanted to kill us the moment he found out about us,”she said as her expression turned painful,“our mother was the only one who knew about us. So when she tried to protect us, our father killed her. And not being able to tolerate this Carter murdered him, right in front of our mother’s dead body. I wanted to feel disgusted, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t blame him. Our mother was just killed for protecting us, ” her voice broke a little in the end.
Suddenly I wanted to hug her, even though I’m not much of a hug person. And more importantly, I hated sympathizing because I’ve been in her situation too. Not in the literal way, but I hated when people used to show fake sympathy to me for not having parents. So, I didn’t want to do that to her.
Instead, I said,“Calling him a motherfucking moron would be an understatement.”
Surprisingly she chuckled at this as we finally reached the end of the long corridor. She opened a large door with intricate designs which led us into an absolutely dark room. My hand immediately flew out to hold hers in the darkness, and I felt relieved when her warm fingers wrapped around mine. I heard a flicking noise, and seconds later the light turned on momentarily blinding me. As soon as my vision adjusted, I found myself in a basement. The room seemed pretty ordinary with yellow walls, some basic equipments and an old bicycle parked in the corner. But the only thing that stood out was the large, ceramic coloured coffin resting in the middle of the room.
Letting go of Christina’s hand, I started walking cautiously to the coffin. My breaths becoming shallow with every step and the moment I reached it, I felt suffocated. The memories of us growing together from childhood to the present flashed before me and an unwanted tear slipped down my eyes. I glanced at Christina, and she gave me an encouraging smile. Taking a deep breath, I pulled open the lid of the coffin, my hands still shaking.
There lying inside was my best friend, looking as beautiful as ever. Her blonde hair seemed glossier with her pink rosy lips. I didn’t know if it was due to vampirism or not, but she looked like a beautiful princess having a peaceful slumber. Her hands were no more pale and the orange tan of her skin seemed to have extra glow as well.
I smiled, “One good thing is you got prettier,” I heard Christina’s chuckle but didn’t turn around. I talked to her for a few more minutes while Christina was waiting outside. I respected her for giving us privacy. Finally before parting, I placed a light kiss on her forehead, “I’m so sorry Mare,” tears flowed freely from my eyes at this point, “I was too late. I’m sorry,” I started to back away as I heard a knock on the door.
I was in front of the door when I glanced at her one last time, “I love you Mare. You’re always gonna be my best friend,” I said walking out of the room and closing the door behind me.
Outside Christina immediately engulfed me in a comfortable embrace. And this time, I returned it without any reluctance. When we pulled away, I could see the softness in her eyes, which was out of understanding; not sympathy. I didn’t know if she understood my pain or experienced it before but I didn’t ask her. She should feel comfortable enough to let me know.
“She didn’t deserve this,” Christina said while looking at the huge doors.
“No she didn’t,” I agreed.
After going back to the main house, I saw Carter’s car was gone which meant he left earlier. I breathed a sigh of relief at this. The last thing I wanted today was to share a ride with him.
Cameron was sweet enough to agree to look after Maria.
“I’m so sorry. You would miss your test,” I apologized as I pulled the straps of my bag on the right shoulder and slipped into my sneakers.
“Nah. I don’t really care. Trust me, I’ve had my education in my time. This was just to find you,” he replied as he took out some books from their bookshelf. I didn’t ask him how he knew that I would be in Victoria Falls because maybe it was in the journal Carter told me about.
Christina and I waved Cameron as we walked outside. Linking my arms through her, she pulled to me towards her bike but soon her face scrunched up.
“What’s wrong?” I asked as I found her looking at the bike in absolute disdain.
“I don’t know how to ride this properly. It’s Cam’s,” she pouted.
“No problem,” I replied as I got onto the vehicle. The seat and grooves of the handle reminded me of mine, and I thought of bringing it here.
Seeing Christina gaping at me, I called out, “You planning to move your ass today or...?” I trailed off chuckling.
Christina got out of her trance and climbed up carefully behind me making sure not to fall off. As she wrapped her arms around my waist, she mumbled, “Of course! You’re the epitome of badass. I should have known,” I chuckled at her as we drove out of their garden.
The classes seemed to drag on forever today and whether it was because I missed Maria or something else, I didn’t know. I often found myself staring into the empty seat which was usually occupied by Maria. I had no classes with Christina and only one with Carter. However, he didn’t show up today. In fact, I didn’t see much of him the whole day. Nor did Christina, as she told me during the lunch.
After school, when I was walking towards the parking lot with Christina, a text message lighted up my phone.
It was from Carter.
Asshole: Meet me at Holly Heads. It’s about your training. Don’t skip.
I turned to Christina, “Are you free this evening?” I asked.
“Nope. Babysitting duty,” she replied, and I knew who she meant.
“Ugh dammit,” I groaned.
“What happened?” Christina stopped walking as she stood in front of me.
“Carter wants me to meet up with him at Holly Heads. For the training. But after yesterday, the last thing I want to do is be alone with him,” I grumbled.
“Why don’t you ask Cam?”
“I don’t have his number,” I frowned.
“That’s not a problem,” she took out her phone and immediately texted Cameron.
Me: Krystal needs help. ASAP. Want to accompany her, and your brother to God knows where?
His response came after a full minute later.
Cam: Would love to, but I have to meet up with Taylor.
Christina and I exchanged looks as she typed in her next response.
Me: What are you going to do with that bitch?
His response was immediate. Almost as if he was waiting for this to come.
Cam: It’s important. Gotta go. Talk to you later.
“So now Cam’s off the list too,” I sighed.
Christina gave me a sympathetic smile but soon her expression turned into one of concern, “How are you going to go if I’m gonna take the bike?”she asked.
“It’s walking distance. Don’t worry. You go ahead,” I smiled at her.
I can’t believe we got so close within three days and especially after the Maria incident. I better don’t regret this.
She hugged me again and murmured, “All the best.”
“You too,” I smirked indicating towards the bike.
I heard her frustrated groan before walking out. I chuckled as I made my way to Holly Heads.
After ten minutes of the trip, I finally reached the diner with the neon sign. Thankfully, today was my day off, or I might have risked losing my job too. I entered the bar and immediately scent of vodka mixed with sweat reached my nose as the sound of shouts and busy chattering of the school jocks and the cheer leaders floated to my ears. I skimmed the area until I spotted a head of black hair. As if on instinct he looked up and our eyes met.
I started walking towards him when my phone pinged with a text.
Asshole: Wait outside. I’m coming.
I exited the diner and soon heard the familiar footsteps as the scent of aftershave and masculinity hit me. Trying not to look at him, I followed him to his car silently. Before starting the ignition, he spoke up for the first time, “Look, I’m gonna warn you now only. Things...can be tense there and not very pleasant,” he trailed off scratching the back of his neck. Seeing my confusion, he added, “ex-problems.”
A knowing smirk curved my lips, “Let me guess. Hump and dump?”
His silence was enough to answer my question.
“That’s what I thought,” I replied as I looked in the front while he started the car bringing it to life, as we left for God knows where like Christina told.
“Where are we going?” I asked him.
“Near Pulcuna,” he replied keeping his eyes fixed on the road.
Pulcuna was a one hour drive from Victoria Falls and the thought of staying with Carter for one whole hour is enough to make me go crazy from frustration. Plugging in my headphones, I looked outside and watched the slow transitioning of landscape from city lights to dark forest trees. If I didn’t know any better, then I would have thought that he is taking me somewhere to kill me considering the amount of darkness we’re engulfed in within half an hour. But I know that the truth is quite contrary to that.
The car came to an abrupt halt when we neared a narrow clearing. Carter parked the car in a corner and mumbled me to get out.
“Do we have to walk?” I asked as I saw the long path ahead of mine.
“Well since I can’t carry you,” as it was dark I couldn’t see his face, but the humor lacing his voice was enough for me to know about the smirk he had on right now.
“No thanks,” I scoffed as I started walking forward without waiting for him. After a few minutes, I heard his approaching footsteps as we fell into the same piece.
But we have hardly crossed half the distance, when a loud howl pierced through the silence of the night. I stopped causing Carter to bump into me. Instinctively our hands found each other and fingers inter wined, despite me being upset with him. I could do that later. The sound only increased and soon started coming from all the directions.
Carter wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me close to him as we soon found ourselves surrounded by bright yellow lights. However, on squinting my eyes further, my pulse quickened as I realized that they were indeed, eyes.
Turning around to find no escape route, I finally realized that we are completely fucked.